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A beacon that delivers real-time information on wildfire development

Semifinalist in Cornell University's Big Idea Competition

Product Design | Branding

Spring 2018 


With extreme weather events taking place across the world, how can you prevent, prepare, or protect people from having to survive in the heart of these conditions?" Creative Conscience, a global non-profit, hosted a 2 week competition centered around the issue of climate change.

Research Methods

  • Case studies

  • User interviews

  • User journey mapping 

My Role 

  • User Research 

  • Concept Development 

  • Branding 

In collaboration with Bailey Herbstreit 

Understanding the User 

We began by looking into different characteristics of natural disasters and initiatives that people take during severe weather events

  • Looked at current initiatives and technologies used during all phases of a natural disaster event.

  • Utilized sticky notes to document positive and negative features of the products and services which helped us determine our design goals down the road.

  • We decided to hone in on wildfires as we realized looking into all natural disasters and attempting to create a solution for all would be too difficult.

Case Studies 

Interviews & Journey Mapping

  • Spoke to user groups affected by wildfires and generated a user journey to identify the gaps in the communication & response system

  • Our key takeaway was that victims lacked a proper warning system therefore lacked awareness when there was an active wildfire in their county 

Defining the Problem

As the fire season grows longer and longer, and people continue to build around natural landscapes it is imperative for them to be fully cognizant of their surroundings, especially in areas susceptible to wildfires. However, the way people receive information about wildfires today is mainly through third party channels. It is a push-pull system that is unreliable as it requires everyone to be continuously active and aware. 

There is a need to bridge the communication gap between the emergency operation center and local residents and increase the preparations time for everyone. 

Starting the Design

To begin the design process we jotted down different qualities and features that our product should incorporate, this became our criteria for success. Our initial concept was to create a survival backpack with an alert keychain beacon.  


Refining the Design

Eventually, we chose to shift gears focusing solely on the keychain beacon as the product rather than the backpack. We worked on enhancing the design highlighting the restorative ridges, trims to protect the emergency button, and a check-in button linked a mobile app. 


Final Product

We built a product, named Pyrotect, that would be easily intertwined within one's lifestyle.  When a wildfire breaks out, the emergency operation center transmits a signal via sensor nodes to the Pyrotect keychains letting community members know about the fire. 

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Exploring a New Frontier

PYROTECT had the opportunity to participate as a finalist in Cornell’s Big Idea Competition. We competed as a nonprofit that sold PYROTECT to Emergency Operation Centers in rural communities. After countless meetings with our peers and professors, we were able to solidify a business model that best captured our market and longevity of the product.


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